MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez has dropped the lawsuit aimed at fighting billionaire Norman Braman’s recall effort. Alvarez had been trying to have the recall effort thrown out due to a technicality.
Alvarez, furious over the recall effort financed by the auto tycoon, moved to have more than 112-thousand recall petition signatures wiped out of existence because of one signature. Alvarez claimed that the county charter was violated because a letter certifying the signatures collection was signed by a deputy clerk, instead of Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin.
Ruvin said he reviewed and approved the petition, and the deputy clerk simply signed a courtesy letter for him.
During a deposition on Wednesday, Ruvin acknowledged that he was out of the country, in South Korea, when the recall petition was formally approved on Oct. 6. Yet, he said that prior to leaving the country; he gave clear instructions to his deputy as to what needed to be corrected for the petition to be appropriate for circulation, according to our news partners at The Miami Herald.
Shortly after Ruvin’s testimony, Alvarez’s attorney Bruce Rogow filed a notice of voluntary dismissal in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
The mayor chose not to continue the court fight because the deposition demonstrated that “Mr. Ruvin did actually have personal involvement in the approval,” Rogow said in a statement on behalf of the mayor.
Ruvin’s office is reviewing the signed petitions submitted by Braman. If certified, the county commission must schedule a recall vote.
Braman launched the recall effort in October after county commissioners approved Alvarez’s budget for the coming year that raises the property tax rate and raises the salaries of most county employees.
“$174 million in property tax increases to fund $132 million in salary increases is not acceptable,” Braman said as he launched his signature-collecting efforts.
Wednesday, the same day he dropped the lawsuit against the petition drive effort; Mayor Alvarez defended himself at the Downtown Bay Forum.
Alvarez said, “I was not going to be the first mayor that closes down fire stations, that closes down parks. I was not going to do that. I would rather be recalled.”
Braman has said there is nothing personal about the recall effort but Alvarez is skeptical.
He told his audience, “Do I think it is personal? Yeah. I wish he had the courage to say that.”
Alvarez thinks Braman is sore over losing his bid to block the new Marlins stadium. It is a deal that is a sore point for many voters too; even though stadium supporters argue that tourist tax dollars are paying for it.
“If we could use that money for public safety,” Alvarez said, “there would be no stadium. But these are convention and development tax money.”
As for the recall effort, the embattled mayor says “let the voters decide.”