Letters to the Editor

FIU’s expansion rhetoric

As the 2015 Miami-Dade County Youth Fair approaches in March, Florida International University has predictably stepped up its rhetoric about a supposed “mandate” from voters to expand onto the fairgrounds — county-owned land where The Youth Fair has a lease for another 70 years.

There is no mandate. The Miami-Dade County charter prohibits private parties from developing buildings and other commercial ventures on county parkland. The Youth Fair, a state-chartered nonprofit charity, has an exemption at Tamiami Park. The November referendum asked voters to extend that exemption to FIU if The Youth Fair were to ever relocate.

FIU spent more than $1.6 million in lobbyists, advertising, mail and email campaigns and a speaker’s bureau in soliciting support. It got the exemption. But that’s all it got. Nothing in that election called for FIU to take over the fairgrounds.

Unlike FIU, the Youth Fair didn’t form a political action committee or spend any funds on a political campaign. We chose to spend money on the mission of providing academic scholarships, showcasing youth achievement and promoting the $2.7 billion South Florida agriculture industry while bringing first-class family entertainment and outstanding exposition facilities to the people of Miami-Dade.

Robert Hohenstein, president & CEO, Miami-Dade County Youth Fair & Exposition, Miami