Miami commission delays Ultra vote

The mayor and a commissioner decided to delay a vote on the Ultra Music Festival’s future in downtown Miami after a guard was trampled by gate-crashers.

04/10/2014 11:34 AM

04/10/2014 9:41 PM

Ultra’s future in downtown Miami is uncertain, for now.

A highly anticipated vote by Miami city commissioners that would have determined the festival’s future was pulled from the commission agenda Thursday.

Mayor Tomás Regalado and Commissioner Sarnoff co-sponsored a resolution that asked commissioners to oust the three-day festival from Bayfront Park, citing a list of issues including rampant drug use and graffiti. Most notably, they claim Ultra breached its contract when organizers failed to install a stronger fence, as submitted in plans to the city at the location where Ericka Mack, a security guard, was trampled on opening day, March 28.

Mack was run over by gate-crashers who took advantage of the weaker chain-link fence and pushed their way through. She remains hospitalized at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

According to Miami police, officers alerted Ultra to strengthen the chain-link fence hours before the concert opened its doors to the public. However, the officers did not circle back to ensure that Ultra complied.

An attempt to quash the vote by Commissioner Wifredo “Willy” Gort at the start of the meeting, when items are typically pulled from the agenda, failed.

“I don’t feel ready today to make any decisions,” Gort said.

His colleagues said they were ready to vote, but before the commission could take a break for lunch, Sarnoff and Regalado abruptly pulled the resolution.

Regalado said the move would give more notice to individuals who might want to address the commission. The commission is scheduled to discuss Ultra at its next meeting at 10 a.m. on April 24.

Meanwhile, Ultra has launched an aggressive campaign on social media to save the popular festival, drawing support from fans and supporters worldwide. An Ultra spokesperson said they are conducting a comprehensive review of their security measures and that politicians should not be so quick to throw the event out of the city.

On Twitter, supporters punctuate their posts with #SaveUltra.

DJ Carl Cox of Australia tweeted to his 344,000 followers, “Politicians are trying to shut down our beloved @Ultra!”

Another popular DJ took to Twitter in a tweet directed to Regalado’s Twitter account.

“Don't let a few rotten apples and politicians who don’t know how to enjoy life shut down @Ultra being in Miami,” wrote DJ Brian S

A petition on change.org to “keep Ultra Music Festival in Miami” has gathered 30,000 signatures.

In other city business, technology that will alert police when gunshots are fired will be tested in Miami’s Liberty City and Overtown neighborhoods.

Commissioners voted unanimously to fund the the ShotSpotter Flex Gunfire Locator, an acoustic sensor system that locates gunfire and dispatches police officers to the exact location. The system will cost $275,000 for a one-year run, most of which will paid from the citys’ Law Enforcement Trust Fund, money seized from criminals.

The acoustic system, bolstered by surveillance cameras, will likely be mounted onto light poles and rooftops. Police Chief Manuel Orosa said the gunfire monitors will strengthen police investigations.

“It will be a better situation to arrest people and keep them behind bars,” he said.

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