Mayor’s buddies too close to Dolphins crew for comfort
Mayor Carlos Gimenez has not started negotiating with the Miami Dolphins yet on their desire to have public funds pay half of the renovations at Sun Life Stadium.
Does anyone believe that?
He stressed this at the press conference Monday that announced the referendum on the matter and, while I may agree that there haven’t been any actual pros and cons drawn out in columns on paper, I do believe there have been discussions and chats that include words like, “well, if we do this,” and “the voters will be more comfortable with that.”
Maybe cooperation is a better word than negotiations.
They’re cooperating to see how they can get this done.
It’s in the Dolphins interest, obviously, to get half their $400 million for upgrades and a roof paid for through the tourist bed tax instead of their own pockets. Dolphins CEO Mike Dee has said that the resources of owner Stephen Ross are not “limitless.” But they should be — just like his profits.
And it’s in the mayor’s best interest. A new shiny stadium under his administration would be a notch in his belt, a beacon of light, especially if it comes with a special Super Bowl right around the same time as his re-election. And especially if it comes with campaign contributions from the Dolphins, who gave him $25,000 for his PAC in October, which was around the same time they did that poll where 84 percent of voters said no way they would pay for stadium upgrades.
That is likely why the Dolphins hired the Gimenez Dream Team — former State Rep. Marcelo Llorente, fundraiser Brian Goldmeier, campaign manager Jesse Manzano and others — to help them lobby the powers that be (including Gimenez) and sell this bill of goods to the public. Negotiations, er, I mean cooperation is easier when the players are all familiar with each other.
Then there’s Ralph Garcia-Toledo, the mayor’s bff and campaign driver, who just happens to also be a sports lobbyist — like he wasn’t thinking or talking about this all those hours in the car? — and is also helping to make this happen, although he did tell me he isn’t on the payroll. He does, he admits, benefit financially just from a better stadium.
Garcia-Toledo may have primed Dee for his appearance on Michael Putney‘s show on Channel 10 Sunday. He certainly felt close and comforable enough to send him props in a text message afterwards.
“Well done on Putney,” he said, signing it with his initials.
Problem is, he goofed and sent it to Ladra instead.
“What are you talking about?” I shot back.
He hasn’t called me back in days so he didn’t call me back the four times I called Sunday. I bet he changes his phone number after this photo goes public, but he doesn’t return my calls now so why should I care?
But then I heard that Dee was on the Putney show Sunday, where the veteran political reporter asked him to respond to critics who catagorize the public funding as “welfare for billionaires.”
Said Dee: “Just because somebody is wealthy enough doesn’t mean he should invest money in a way that is unwise. Mr. Ross has made a tremendous commitment to this franchise, and to this community.”
Yes, but Mr. Ross stands to make a tremendous amount of money on this franchise, on this community.
That’s also when Dee said the line about having an end to the spending. “Our ability to continue to invest unilaterally is not limitless,” he said.
Well, if there is a limit on what they spend, there should be a limit on what they take in, also.