Arthur Godfrey’s name will remain on 41st Street in Miami Beach.
A proposal to remove the name of the 1950s broadcaster, made by Commissioner Joy Malakoff, failed in a 4-3 vote during Wednesday’s City Commission meeting. Mayor Philip Levine, Michael Grieco, Micky Steinberg and Jonah Wolfson voted down the change. Malakoff, Deede Weithorn and Ed Tobin supported it.
Since last summer, Malakoff has said the city should remove the “Arthur Godfrey Road” name from 41st Street simply because he is not relevant anymore. Some locals have alleged that Godfrey was anti-Semitic because he partially owned a hotel with restrictive policies against Jews, while others have dismissed the allegations as unsubstantiated rumors that have persisted through the years.
Malakoff did have support from Weithorn, who believed removing the name would be helpful for out-of-towners using GPS units to get around the Beach.
After months of discussion in committee, the issue died Wednesday as a majority of commissioners said they struggled with the rationale for the removal. Wolfson said after speaking with local Jewish leaders, he didn’t think there was sufficient evidence to prove Godfrey was anti-Semitic. Stating a point that fellow commissioners echoed, he added that the argument for removing an irrelevant name could be used to change other street or landmark names in the Beach.
“If you use that as the rationale for removing it, then we could take a ton of names,” he said. “Carl Fisher is no longer relevant. [Abe] Resnick is no longer relevant. Then all these people are no longer relevant — which they are. They all play a part in the history of our city,” he said.
In other business:
▪ The city approved the first settlement following the discovery of about $19 million in uncollected developer fees that were discovered after an internal review last year. The city will collect $2.76 million from Aloft South Beach.
According to city staff, previous city employees decided to charge Aloft a lower fee than they could have, which would have totaled $6.4 million. In November, the city said it hopes to collect $7 million, with the remaining $13 million out of reach because of the statute of limitations, the business has closed or the fee was miscalculated.
▪ The commission gave final approval to an ordinance that requires nude dance clubs to check official identification of all performers and dancers. It also requires the businesses to keep a shift log confirming in/out times and that the IDs were checked. Tobin brought the item. It takes practices put in place after a 13-year-old was found performing at Club Madonna last year and codifies them.
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