Fabiola Santiago

Fabiola Santiago: Here’s a better offer than David Beckham’s soccer stadium

El Nuevo Herald

I have a proposition the Miami-Dade School Board can’t refuse.

Mine is better, cheaper and more transparent than David Beckham’s proposed soccer stadium on free public land in Little Havana, a deal still bitter enough (no water view!) for the soccer celebrity to seek a public partner to help him finagle an annual property-tax exemption.

He’s found a taker, and if the eagle-eyed superintendent of schools can envision a magnet school for sports in Beckham’s stadium when it’s not hosting soccer matches — for the bargain price of a tax break worth millions — surely he can appreciate my idea, too.

In exchange for an exemption from paying some $5,000 in yearly taxes on the property I occupy, I’ll convert my McMansion — when I’m not using it for family-hosting and money-making purposes, of course — into a retreat for student journalists and promising future authors from the storied cosmopolitan city of Miami.

The need is great, believe me.

I’ve read the copy of high school students. They show great promise and are more engaged with the world than most Americans, yet the basics of Writing 101 slipped by them back in middle school.

Stuff like a person is a “who,” a thing is a “that.” It’s the boy who fell from the chair. And the chair that fell on the teacher’s head.

Grammar eludes even literary minds, but I can promise a rise to greatness under the auspices of my writing rehab — I mean, magnet program.

My tax-exempt home can be the temple where charges of the public school system can get rid of bad habits and make E.B. White’s Elements of Style part of their DNA. I can throw in some history, political science and even critical thinking skills, because I’m more generous than gorgeous soccer stars. And if successful, the school board and I can extend my program — and the tax breaks — to my neighbors.

Why not? Sounds like the school board is now a key player in the business of land development. The powers-that-be couldn’t have pulled that mega-mall deal in Northwest Miami-Dade without their $7 million land sale.

But best of all, unlike Beckham’s deal, mine is devoid of euphemisms and unavailable numbers. The tax bill is in the mail. Every other schmuck has to pay it, but I’m offering services that far exceed its value.

Such a deal.

It’s not “complicated.” No need for Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado to “hurry!” to get voters’ approval (because referendums worked out so well with SkyRise Miami and Watson Island, ha). And I hope that there are no hard feelings over my stance on the mega mall and climate change — and that, as he has promised Beckham, county Mayor Carlos Gimenez won’t block my deal.

I can see how this has the potential to be a model for the rest of the country.

I will benefit hundreds — no, thousands, millions! — of students every year.

No fingers crossed under the table, no closed-door negotiations — just doing Miami a favor — and all I’m asking is a measly tax break while I shop for a pied-à-terre on high ground.

In return, I promise to turn my property into a factory of Hemingways.

Everybody wants a tax break. Me too!

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